O'Neill, a member of the Environmental Sciences Division, was recognized for his "outstanding contributions to the development of basic concepts and applications of statistical ecology." The statistical ecology division of INTECOL was originated in 1969 to serve as the primary organization fostering international cooperation and exchange in statistical ecology, ecosystem modeling and probability applications.
O'Neill joined ORNL as a research ecologist in 1968. He received a bachelor's degree in philosophy from Cathedral College and a doctoral degree in ecology from the University of Illinois.
He is a member of the Ecological Society of America, the American Society of Naturalists and the United States International Association for Landscape Ecology. His work has appeared in more than 300 scientific journal articles.
He and his wife, Gerry, live in Oak Ridge.
The Oak Ridge National Laboratory, one of the Department of Energy's multiprogram national research and development facilities, is managed by Martin Marietta Energy Systems, which also manages the Oak Ridge K-25 Site and the Oak Ridge Y-12 Plant.